As one who watches 20-some hours of television a day, I naturally had my concerns about the celebrated V-chip, such as: Does it come in Bar-B-Q flavor? But, as President Clinton explained in his State of the Union address, the V-chip is in fact a device that can block out unwanted TV programs, like the State of the Union address. This raises another question: Can I get a V-chip that specifically screens out the most unpleasant things on sports television? In other words, is there a Dickie V-chip?
If so, we will never again have to watch commercials that feature college basketball coaches. UMass's John Calipari has sold his armpits to an antiperspirant maker and now claims that potential recruits regularly greet him with the question: "Coach Cal, got any Degree?" Never mind that when 54% of college basketball players exhaust their eligibility, they don't "got any degree." I'm sure that's beside the point.
With a Dickie V-chip, we will no longer have to endure ESPN's promos for their coverage of the women's Final Four. The network's ads feature women's hoop highlights set to the sounds of Brick House, the 1977 Commodores hit that goes: "The lady's stacked and that's a fact.... She's built like an Amazon." Presumably, ESPN could not secure the rights to K.C. and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty.
Likewise, the chip will selectively silence analyst Bill Raftery, whose CBS play-by-play partner, Sean McDonough, became ill while broadcasting last Saturday's Kentucky-Wake Forest game. When sideline reporter Michele Tafoya filled in, Raf went into a swoon, telling her she was "much better looking" than his regular partner. He then narrated a replay of Kentucky's defense collapsing on Demon Deacons center Tim Duncan by saying to Tafoya, "You have the same problem: When you walk into a room, a lot of people are attracted to you!" To borrow Raftery's two favorite words, he clearly thinks she's a "dish!" and all but gave her a "kiss!"
And talk about Must-V TV: What to make of those ads in which aging rocker Alice Cooper, who, as legend has it, once ate excrement on stage, teams with straight-arrow Johnny Miller to plug $125 Tuttle putters by Callaway? The company also pays soprano sax virtuoso Kenny G to push its Big Bertha drivers. G-chip, anyone?
My chip will be programmed to do what few NBA forwards can: Screen out Dennis Rodman. And what better use of a Dickie V-chip than to block Dick Vitale's sometime broadcast partner, the supercilious and sanctimonious Digger Phelps, who always looks as if he would rather perform Cooper's old act than share the ESPN studio set with the bald, one-eyed wacko.
Needless to say, the sports V-chip will intercept any inane interviews before they can sully my Sony. Thus I'll be spared yet another repeat of the CBS sound bite in which Patrick Ewing reminisces about Georgetown's performance in the 1985 NCAA tournament. Says Ewing, "The whole team was in a zone." In fact, the whole team was in a zone. Just once, I want to hear a player say, "The whole team was in a box-and-one."
Adios, as well, to those sports anchors who confuse speaking Spanish with being clever. The vogue began innocently enough, with SportsCenter's Dan Patrick describing all hot performers as "en fuego" (on fire). His colleague Craig Kilborn was soon segueing to NHL highlights with the phrase, "And now, to the chilled agua" (water). Of late Kilborn has been referring to SportsCenter as "el Centro" (the Center). All of which makes him a cloying cabeza de alfiler (pinhead). Indeed, just about everyone on the show now speaks this gratuitous ESPNol. Had Phil Rizzuto cut his teeth on SportsCenter, his signature line would be "Holy vaca!"
And then there is CBS analyst Clark Kellogg, who has more signature lines than Oleg Cassini, if not as much basketball savvy. When a player scores, Kellogg is wont to say, "In the cup, mark it up!" He gets V-chipped, along with his studio co-host, Pat O'Brien, the Barneys mannequin whose conversation last Friday night with retired Princeton coach Pete Carril—dressed in a short-sleeved shirt and bow tie—was just too weird for words. Think of Don Johnson and John Houseman forced to share a transcontinental train compartment.
Another member of that CBS set, George Raveling, noted that the difference between him and Carril is, "I never coached anyone with 1900 on the SATs." Given that the test's maximum score is 1600, one could only paraphrase the basketball rule book: Raveling is a violation.